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Old man

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The poem includes the following quote:

“Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once”? Lillian Dickson

Also, lyrics at the end from Neil Young's song old man.

Silently he sat in darkness, flinching at the sight of light.
Which created a glow reflecting on his balding head.
His cold glare did not help my nerves, 
so I simply stood there observing his silence.

His philosopher beard's tendrils seem to crawl forever,
some hidden behind his buckled knuckle hands.
Wizened victims of one too many a fist fight.
When you looked closer, they exposed branded tattoos, 
a timeless reminder from his perturbed past.

He was a man whose ship had never sailed, 
maybe too afraid to sink within uncharted waters.
Yet this pilgrim had walked many a path for several decades.
Burning many bridges along the way, until his feet became weary.
To many, he was an 'old dog' that should have been put down
a long time ago - yet he had never requested to live this long.
He didn't seem like a religious man, but he eagerly anticipated death.

An emphatic glance into his lackadaisical drowsy eyes,
revealed hidden sorrows built up through the generations.
Every wrinkle on his sullen face seemed to be an emblem of pain.
He looked tired, worn down by life and defeated by humanity.
A fighter who had fought and fallen many times, 
but always returned to the ring. Begging to be punished.

His body had now become slender and emaciated, 
it seemed a strong gust could blow it away.
It was evident he enjoyed to pretend, but I knew his game.
Especially when his idle facial impressions struggled with 
the sound of bones creaking in sluggish movement.

He started to whistle a tune, it was familiar, 
but I couldn't put a name to it.
As he rubbed his eyes, his cheeks crumpled.
A wry smile, crippled by decaying teeth appeared,
as his lethargic lips spoke with a burdened tone.

“Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.  Someone once said that boy! But, let me tell you, no matter how many times you toss that coin, it will never land on the same side."

A sardonic expression appeared on his face. 
But, I could see he had a story to tell, 
but his tongue seemed to refuse to dance 
with the desires of his heart.
Silence was still my guide though, 
but unsure if it was due to tact or fear.
I wanted to know about the wounds engraved on his heart,
and the agony ingrained in his soul.

Following a deep sigh, he began to speak, but now in a subtle tone.

I can't tell you about smiles, 
but I sure can tell you about tears, boy.
They called me a coward, because I didn't go to war,
but I've been a prisoner of war all my life. 
And I've had more blood on my hands,
than any 'son of a gun,' solider, boy.
Its always been me against the world, 
to save myself I lived a life of manipulation,
but I never meant to hurt a soul,
unless they deserved it and too many did.

After a slight pause, his tone sounded more intense.

"I was born on a night when the heavens cried.
I've asked GOD, why did the angels hide when I arrived. 
Instead he sent the grim reaper to take my mother.
I didn't even have a chance to feel her skin.
I've never been able to call anyone mother."

He was now staring at me, I could see the rage in his eyes,
so intimidating, I turned my head towards the floor. 
His tone now fierce, I could feel his wrath.

"Life is full of second hand emotions, broken dreams,
forgotten promises and bleeding hearts!! Regretful memories,
of haunting ghosts, whose spirit voices torment my mind!!
And you want to hear something nostalgic, boy?
Try being beaten every day, for just existing!!
Try being seen as the cause of death!!

And then they wonder why..."

He wipes away intrinsic tears,
trembling, he lights up a cigarette.

"we done here boy"

and then the silence returned...

Walking away in somewhat of a daze,
instinctively I remembered the song;

 Old man look at me now....
Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed
Rolling home to you.

Silent One
1 November 2017

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017




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12
Date: 11/29/2018 7:08:00 PM
You have this ability that makes me look though your eyes that opens mine so that I can see what you can see, amazing!
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Date: 11/29/2017 6:19:00 PM
That is quite a tale told in your poetry. It is a sad tale told in your poetry. I had tears in my eyes as I read this poem. Have a nice evening my friend.
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Silent One
Date: 11/30/2017 7:04:00 AM
Thank you Darlene...
Date: 11/25/2017 2:43:00 PM
Silent One: After reading the 3 doz. wonderful comments, I have little left to add. Any addition to this story would be hard, because when I went to visit his camp under the interstate bridge, he'd already moved on to another time and place. I'm glad you were lucky enough to have met him in person. Thank you for sharing that encounter with all of us on the soup. We are all richer for it. oldbuck
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Silent One
Date: 11/25/2017 2:45:00 PM
Now that is a great response... However this is fictional... Thank you for reading..
Date: 11/24/2017 9:00:00 PM
Wow - what storytelling and descriptive skills... Amazing. A fave with me for sure.
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Silent One
Date: 11/25/2017 2:46:00 PM
Thank you..
Date: 11/8/2017 5:06:00 PM
Really deep write, the imagination soars with questions, you need to do a sequel, why is the young man there etc? Great song Neil Young, Canadian songwriter hall of fame. Enjoyed the read SO!
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Silent One
Date: 11/8/2017 5:09:00 PM
I want to leave it for the reader to decide... could have many endings Thanks for reading
Date: 11/8/2017 2:38:00 AM
A very deep and descriptive story, Silent One, Good write :)
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Silent One
Date: 11/8/2017 5:09:00 PM
Thank you
Date: 11/7/2017 12:37:00 PM
I love the 3rd stanza..."A fighter who had fought and fallen many times, but always returned to the ring. Begging to be punished"- full of depth. This one really moved me and I have always loved that song!!! :) luloooo
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Silent One
Date: 11/8/2017 5:10:00 PM
Thank you Lulooo
Date: 11/6/2017 5:07:00 PM
Oh, Silent One, you have drawn such a vivid picture of this man and his life. It is a Rembrandt of poems.
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PATRICIA CRESSWELL
Date: 11/6/2017 5:09:00 PM
This must be added to my treasure box!
Date: 11/6/2017 5:31:00 AM
A very nostalgic narration, S.O. I'm in total awe by the intricate interpretation of such dark and deep emotions. A fav!!
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Silent One
Date: 11/6/2017 3:15:00 PM
Thank you Afzal.. Glad you liked it..
Date: 11/5/2017 9:48:00 AM
I have spoken to that old man and he told me-- To go look into a mirror. I did--and there I saw him saw saying with tears falling-- "your own sad soul speaketh to you"! A fav as this, fantastic gem you divined or else created from your own poetic genius, hit so many marks for me..
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Silent One
Date: 11/6/2017 3:16:00 PM
That is the beauty of poetry my friend and that is the reason that I write.. so my words touch people... Thank you..
Date: 11/4/2017 9:18:00 PM
An intense and captivating write Silent One that had that up-close and personal feeling to it. When the old man spoke it seemed like he was speaking directly to me... completely riveting, I was totally absorbed into your write. A fave for me!! Excellent and I enjoyed your story telling immensely.. ~Susan
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/6/2017 5:19:00 PM
And Steven Stills acoustic performance of Old Man was mesmerizing and beautiful as well. A fave too :))
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Silent One
Date: 11/6/2017 3:17:00 PM
Thank you Susan, so glad you liked this story..
Date: 11/4/2017 1:23:00 PM
Reading this was as though it was a play interacting with the reader. I enjoyed this very much in the intensity built towards the end that held me captivated as to hearing more. Thank you for your comments of encouraging words. I am glad to have found many poets writings inspiring to read others emotions written. As well as positive feedback with comments from someone that writes as you do. Have a great day! :-)
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Silent One
Date: 11/6/2017 3:18:00 PM
Thank you for your great comment Kristina..
Date: 11/4/2017 12:13:00 AM
"Worn down by life and defeated by humanity." Brilliant words that describe an endearing life for so many of us and especially this old man. I could sense his discontent and hurt, but he was a worn survivor like a lot of us are. When you read this you almost become this man as you relate to his feelings and emotions. This is so real and heartfelt Silent One, it is a favorite for me...
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Silent One
Date: 11/4/2017 11:06:00 AM
Thank you Michael... Glad you liked it my friend..
Date: 11/3/2017 7:36:00 PM
Ah such a deep poignant read SO. Rolling home to you.....what a sad life of a man. I feel for him but cannot reach....so precious is this piece. I can still visualize him in my mind from your clever descriptions. He had a heavy cross to carry all of his life.
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Silent One
Date: 11/4/2017 11:06:00 AM
Thank you Suzanne, so glad you liked the storytelling.. Great way to explain his burden, excellent...
Date: 11/2/2017 9:53:00 PM
It had a bit of Mr. Beau Jangles feel for me. So very well done SO, a fav...
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Silent One
Date: 11/3/2017 4:33:00 PM
Thank you...
Date: 11/2/2017 11:58:00 AM
The story is heartbreaking.To lose a mother as soon as one is born..So sad.Heartwrenching poem and so greatly penned.Nice to read you again.
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Date: 11/2/2017 11:58:00 AM
The story is heartbreaking.To lose a mother as soon as one is born..So sad.Heartwrenching poem and so greatly penned.Nice to read you again.
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Silent One
Date: 11/3/2017 4:33:00 PM
Thank you..
Date: 11/2/2017 9:41:00 AM
I like the various philosophical thoughts you've included in this write, Silent One, compels one to read till the end, great suspenseful writing:) good choice of song and quote too:)
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Silent One
Date: 11/3/2017 4:34:00 PM
Thank you..
Date: 11/2/2017 7:52:00 AM
The silence only broken by the sadness of his story..Well written Silent One
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Silent One
Date: 11/2/2017 7:55:00 AM
Thank you Joseph..
Date: 11/1/2017 10:34:00 PM
I love the perfect choice of song for this poem Si. I must say that out of all the poems and prose that I've read of yours ,this has to be my favourite. Such a powerful write, and you leave the door open for a continuation. It could very well be the start of a great book, where the boy returns time and time again to the old man for a 'lesson in life'. You should think on it. Brilliant as always and a fave..Maria
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Silent One
Date: 11/2/2017 7:43:00 AM
Thank you Maria, I see your point about part two.. I would prefer the reader to make their own mind up about the story.. It could be seen in many different ways.. Who was the old man, what relevance does the young man have? Or was it an image he saw and voices he heard in his head? Also, where was he? hospital, mental ward, prison or in an old people's home?
Date: 11/1/2017 7:19:00 PM
Awesome heart touching story telling Silent One; and great song to go with it too!~Che :)
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Silent One
Date: 11/2/2017 7:49:00 AM
Thank you Cheryl..
Date: 11/1/2017 6:51:00 PM
you have taken the high road by depicting a momentous slice of life through man's journey with the chains of time... truly a brilliant poem deserving a POTD, SO... huggs
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Silent One
Date: 11/2/2017 7:54:00 AM
Thank you Nette..
Date: 11/1/2017 3:16:00 PM
Love the imagery of the old man and his time of life, Silent One... a wonderful story . Victor is right very deserving of a POTD.. Hugs eve ~`*
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Silent One
Date: 11/1/2017 3:25:00 PM
Thank you Eve...
Date: 11/1/2017 1:25:00 PM
This poem is one sonic boom, SO! It takes off w/raw energy and lands w/crisp, atmospheric burnt wings. But, as always, you nailed the landing too. Such a flight of Phoenix journey as told thru the eyes of an aged spirit. Your pen burns bright, so luminous bright, my talented friend. Great poem! Love and much respect always.
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Silent One
Date: 11/1/2017 3:29:00 PM
Thank you Freddie..
Date: 11/1/2017 12:39:00 PM
Great poem....enjoyed it...Well done!
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Silent One
Date: 11/1/2017 4:08:00 PM
Thank you Mark..
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